“House of Cards,” a Washington story

  On the banks of the Potomac River, the natural dividing line between the north and the south of the United States, there is a city, the capital of the United States-Washington, District of Columbia. In the eyes of ordinary people, one political game after another is probably going on here day and night. In the private room of a certain high-end restaurant, there may be some unspeakable transactions going on; An overwhelming conspiracy is brewing… In Washington DC, a special “political ecosystem” is rooted here and breathes with the city. The stories in Washington D.C. are inseparable from the lives of ordinary people. If you are not there and do not engage in politics, you will be far away from it, but many things that happen there are closely related to ordinary people. This will inevitably make the public very entangled, wanting to know what is going on there, but hoping not to affect their lives.
  The American streaming service provider Netflix (Netflix) has precisely grasped this mentality of the public. In 2013, it launched its own exclusive political thriller “House of Cards”, which showed the public the whole of Washington DC. Political ecosystem, and with its excellent production and strong lineup, it became popular overnight. In 2014, Netflix launched the second season of “House of Cards” as scheduled, and even changed the broadcast method of one episode a week in American dramas, and put all the episodes of the entire season on the Internet in one breath, which immediately detonated the ratings boom. “House of Cards” has become a hot word on social networks, and even people in the cafeteria of Congress are actively exchanging stories.
  The birth of “House of Cards” is closely related to Netflix’s ambition to be both a channel and a content company. Its success is inseparable from Netflix’s spare no effort in favor of it, and it is indeed a well-produced excellent drama. set. From the beginning, Netflix recruited a gold-medal team for “House of Cards” that can be qualified for a big-budget Hollywood film: the opening director of the TV series is “Fight Club” director David Fincher, Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey plays the leading role and Robin Wright, the heroine of “Forrest Gump”, plays the leading role. The story frame is adapted from the popular British TV series “House of Cards” in the 20th century. The screenwriter also invited the Oscar-winning film “The President”. Paul Willimon of Killing Bureau, who also worked as an assistant to Hillary Clinton and participated in the 2004 presidential election. Such a strong lineup made “House of Cards” already aroused the audience’s expectations during the early publicity.
  When the series was aired, the superb acting skills of the actors, the fast-paced story, and the climactic plots won rave reviews from all parties. The quality of the whole series so far has not lived up to the public’s expectations.
  The story of “House of Cards” begins with the inauguration of a new president. The birth of a new government also means a new chapter in many people’s political careers, at least according to veteran politician Frank Underwood, the Democratic Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He believes that the new US President Lett Walker came to power, and he has contributed a lot. The Secretary of State of the new government should be the gift he deserves, but he never expected that he made a mistake. Using the high-sounding reason that “the House of Representatives has its own people to handle affairs” made Frank miss the post of Secretary of State. Enraged, Frank vowed to make the president who betrayed him pay the price. On the surface, he still supported the president with all his heart, but with the education reform bill proposed by the new president, a protracted political conspiracy carefully planned by Frank began. .
  In the first episode of “House of Cards”, in less than 60 minutes, the director explained in detail the important forces in the story: the White House centered on the president, the criss-crossed parties of Frank The House of Representatives, the Senate with complex personnel and difficult to control, trade union organizations outside the government, the non-profit organization (NGO) led by Frank’s wife Claire, the news media represented by female reporter Zoe Barnes, and the lobbyists and the various business groups behind them. The vivid characters and the intertwined forces behind them make the story extremely tense and unpredictable, and it quickly caught the audience’s attention. The plot of Russell running for governor in the later stage of the House of Representatives shows the different roles of American politics at the national and local levels, which is very interesting. After the launch of the second season, people have seen how the political game in Washington directly and indirectly affects the international political situation. At the same time, one shot after another quietly shows various small details of daily life in Washington DC: decorations and magazines on desks, ringing phones one after another, magnetic strips covered with names of congressmen, coffee in the hands of running civil servants, visits The badges of the personnel, the small pastries in the cafeteria of the House of Representatives, etc., even the people in Washington may feel very friendly after seeing them, and the curiosity of the audience is definitely 100% satisfied.
  All of these prove that “House of Cards” is congenitally excellent and cultivated intensively. It is completely expected and reasonable that the ratings boom in the United States will appear. Perhaps to the surprise of Netflix and Americans, “House of Cards” has also become a hit in China. Several American mainstream media have reported on the popularity of “House of Cards” in China and analyzed the reasons.
  In all fairness, “House of Cards” is far less popular in China than it is in the United States. First of all, American dramas are unlikely to be widely recognized by Chinese audiences due to social, cultural and language barriers. In addition, they are only broadcast on the Internet, and in China, a large part of the audience prefers to watch TV dramas on TV. Furthermore, if you are a Chinese who is not interested in American politics, watching the movie “House of Cards” is indeed depressing. Take the author as an example. Originally, I only knew about the separation of powers in the United States, the superficiality of the federal system and the electoral system, and the world-famous partisan dispute between the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party. When political terms are mixed in the lines, the brain starts to be confused, and I have to pause repeatedly to understand the “truth” behind the lines sentence by sentence. Fortunately, the subtitle team is very considerate and often spreads common sense to Chinese audiences at the end of the film. Therefore, generally speaking, the lack of understanding of American politics does not affect Chinese audiences’ appreciation of a good story with climaxes, and because of this unfamiliarity with American politics It makes Chinese audiences feel more fresh and interesting in the process of watching movies.
  However, the American media also expressed some concerns. They believed that the successful introduction of “House of Cards” to China was due to the portrayal of the dark side of American politics in the play, which was in line with the Chinese government’s propaganda of the negative image of the United States and confirmed the so-called democracy of the United States. political hypocrisy. This worry is certainly justified, but even without this film, Chinese audiences would not naively think that American politics is all clear. Most of the audience can clearly realize that this fictional story from a foreign country still tells the real reaction of human nature under the rights and desires. Although different cultural systems make this reaction not completely consistent, the drama The motives and inner changes of the characters in the novel are still the same. Therefore, most of the reasons why “House of Cards” is popular in China are the same as that of American audiences: because of the story, actors and production, but also because of some differences, such as American-style political life and struggles.
  Speaking of the political struggle in “House of Cards”, compared with the political struggle in various dynasties in China that lasted for thousands of years, it is really too childish. Many Chinese netizens commented that Frank, who is defined as an old fox in the American political arena, most of the tricks in the play are just playing with his mouth, which is completely incomparable with the ups and downs, tricks, and frightening political struggles in Chinese history. The level is not even comparable to the Gongdou drama “The Legend of Zhen Huan”. On the one hand, netizens complained that the conspiracy in “House of Cards” was not effective, on the other hand, they also lamented the power and limitations of the system and norms in the play.
  The political culture of the United States reflects the typical Christian view of democracy. Under the influence of Christian ethics such as “original sin”, the American people naturally believe in the system and not in people. Therefore, American democratic politics has set up a lot of rules and regulations to decentralize power. Americans believe that in the government, only if no one person or institution has the opportunity to abuse power, the freedom and equality of the people will not be harmed, and spontaneous supervision and checks and balances are the most important and even the only way to ensure freedom and equality. s method. Therefore, compared with the “government officials” in some traditional concepts, American politicians are indeed very frustrated. If the political system is likened to the shackles of politicians, then in the power struggle in Washington, American politicians are really fighting in the arena wearing shackles and handcuffs. kill. But on the other hand, the level of “bloody cruelty” has also been greatly reduced, and the probability of harming innocent people has also been greatly reduced. In fact, the loser in the contest is more likely to retreat unscathed and step down with dignity. As an ordinary American, if he must endure the corruption, cruelty and darkness of high-level politics, he is probably willing to choose such “limited” darkness to endure.
  Human beings are highly social creatures, so nature is very easy to be institutionalized. In a political system like the United States, it can be seen that the most worrying thing for politicians all day is actually how to win elections, and the second is how to get the legislation they support passed. The former is a necessary prerequisite for a political career, and the latter is The only way to gain political achievements by yourself. Everyone knows that when an election is lost, a politician’s political career is over, or, at least, out for a while. During the election process, every politician was inspected again and again by the public and the media under a magnifying glass, and the opponents were eager to seize the opponent’s shady background to attack the opponent’s credibility. Under this pressure, Most of the politicians behave in a well-behaved manner and try not to do anything out of line to challenge the public’s tolerance. In the film, the protagonist’s devious and covert political struggle strategy also well reflects the pressure of multi-party supervision. In the first season, Frank’s goal of retaliation was completely different from his actual actions. For a time, even the audience couldn’t figure out what he wanted to do. This is not so much Frank’s cunning and prudence, but rather the rules of the game. Way.
  Whether it can promote the passage of legislation depends on the ability to canvass and negotiate. The whole process is quite complicated and requires many micro-level operations. The audience can see that because Frank is familiar with the positions and interests of each congressman in the play, when a draft of a certain legislation is introduced, he already knows whether the number of votes for the bill can be passed. If not enough, the remaining It is a long process of lobbying and wrangling for the fence-sitting faction and the neutral faction. For example, add a clause to the bill to meet the interests of your party, or take a step back and modify the specific clauses or figures of the bill…
  No matter how detailed the system is And the rules, too, will certainly have their loopholes. Under the premise of multiple decentralization and checks and balances of power, Frank, a politician who has been in the political arena for many years, is well versed in the rules of the game, and his best trick is to use his strength to fight. The news media is one of Frank’s important political struggle tools. In the United States, the news media is a double-edged sword for politicians in political struggles. If it is not used properly, it will cause fire; but once it is used well, it is very powerful. The mass media has the function of setting the agenda for the public. The media’s overwhelming coverage of a certain event will make the public think that this matter is very important; on the contrary, the topics that people talk about are often the topics that the media cares about most. The two interact and interact with each other. influences. Frank used the media many times in the play to promote himself, divert the attention of the public, or create social pressure on his competitors. In the end, the system still has no way to completely limit the evil in human nature. Even the perfect system has its flaws. As long as people have the heart, they can always override the system and use the rules and regulations of the system for their own use.
  However, the “power sex deal” between Frank and the young female reporter in the play is not common in reality. First, the two sides have no chance. The guard and a group of his own colleagues met with important figures in private; second, it was not necessary, as this transaction of power and sex was a big risk and little reward for both parties. In Washington, a senior journalist is a more stable occupation than a politician. The president only lives in the White House for eight years, and a famous reporter can work in Washington until retirement. Therefore, political journalists in Washington are more cherished than politicians. their own feathers; moreover, as mentioned above, the news media is a double-edged sword for politicians. In order to pursue public attention, the media will do everything possible to find exclusive inside information. “Allies” of the spectrum. At the end of the first season, Frank was surrounded by enemies, and the young reporter who was originally a “media tool” of his camp became his biggest threat, leaving the audience with great suspense.
  It’s funny to say that most of the audience can’t help but sweat for such a cold, cunning, perfidious and treacherous person when they see Frank is going to reveal the truth. This is really due to the excellent acting skills of actor Kevin Spacey And the unique narrative technique of “House of Cards”.
  The fourth wall (fourth wall) is a theater term. The traditional stage is a traditional three-wall mirror frame design. For actors, the background behind and the left and right directions can be regarded as three walls, while the fourth “invisible wall” is Existing between the stage and the auditorium, this is a wall built by professional actors through psychological suggestion. An excellent Shakespeare actor must not only ignore the audience, fully immerse himself in the role, but also need to interact with the fourth wall, interpreting long monologues into the most sincere dialogue with the inner self, soul, and divinity . On the stage, the most contagious and artistic part is the performance of “public loneliness” when interacting with the fourth wall. In the era of TV and movies, the TV screen has become a natural fourth wall, and the leading actor suddenly stares at the camera, has an inner monologue, and tries to communicate with the audience with his eyes, which is called “breaking the fourth wall”. wall”. Take “House of Cards” as an example. In the play, Frank is a person who is hollowed out by power. He is lonely because of his pursuit of power. His wife is also a cold and ambitious pragmatist. The part they conceal from each other is not only a kind of self-protection, but also a kind of protection for each other. That being the case, where is the place where Frank can confide and confess himself? Moreover, if Frank’s conspiracy is not properly explained, the audience will often be confused by Frank just like the characters in the play.
  In this way, because of the characters’ psychological needs and narrative needs, the audience has naturally become Frank’s absolutely trusted “old buddy”. By revealing their inner struggles, the audience has gradually adapted to this role, becoming part of Frank’s story, and even really becoming his “old buddy”. In “House of Cards”, the use of this fourth wall of expression is really quite flattering.
  Here is an interesting tidbit. During the 2013 Emmy Awards ceremony, the recording party specially arranged a burden: When the hosts were arguing on the stage who should host the awards ceremony, the camera suddenly cut to Frank in the audience. The actor Spacey, with Frank’s dark eyes, calmly turned his head to the camera and said to the audience: “Everything is going according to my plan. (It’s all going according to my plan. )” It can be seen that the way of “breaking the fourth wall” of “House of Cards” is deeply rooted in the hearts of the people.
  In the transformation of the world, the national political system built by the founders and pioneers of the United States with painstaking efforts and even their lives to protect the noble beliefs of “freedom, equality, and fraternity” has gradually become the rules of the game for politicians. Washington has become a showplace, democracy has become a cloak of hypocrisy, freedom has become a selfish official rhetoric, and the true feelings between people are indifferent, and common interests are the most trustworthy bond in interpersonal relationships. This is the story about the people and things in Washington DC in “House of Cards”, with a hint of sadness and naked darkness. This dark political drama won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award in 2013. Many people believe that its success is mainly due to its high degree of restoration of reality, but an American congressman said in an interview with the media Said with a smile: In fact, the Washingtonians and the media who follow this show are stunned. Lan ZhanYi栊ciTanCorridor Ascariata Returns to Coal ZhizhiⅲChan Climbing and LeechPassing the Violent Ape Baiyuan LongbaoPatting the Core and Comparing Quality mace nao thorn
  Willimon, the screenwriter of “House of Cards”, has a good attitude. He said that he only wants to write a good story based on reality. As for the murder, betrayal and manipulation in the story, it has a long history since the ancient Greek mythology. , How can a good story be without these dramatic conflicts? In addition, Netflix also provided big data analysis support for the creation of the script. Before the script creation of “House of Cards”, Netflix analyzed the viewing behavior of 30 million users, including the audience’s viewing time, when to pause, Rewinding and fast-forwarding, we analyzed more than 4 million user reviews and 3 million user searches. Through the analysis and exploration of all these data, the entire production team basically grasped the viewing needs and tastes of the end audience. It can be seen from this that “House of Cards” is a drama tailor-made for the audience, whether it is elegant or vulgar. Although the creative material comes from life, it has been packaged over and over again to cater to the audience. So there is no need to regard this drama as a documentary in Washington DC. Like many other good stories, it opens a window and allows people to see the ups and downs and joys and sorrows of other people’s fate. The reason why it is different , because it tells about Washington, a city that is rationally planned into four square districts, a city that is a bit outdated in the eyes of Americans and has no relationship with romance, and a city that is less than 180 square kilometers but is affecting the world.

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